Campus Corner

Former Missouri Western golfer Brice Garnett on cusp of PGA Tour

Brice Garnett enjoyed success playing golf in high school and college. Now, he is having a successful season as a professional.

Garnett is one of 156 players scheduled to tee off in the Midwest Classic Presented by Cadillac, a Tour event that runs today through Sunday at the Nicklaus Golf Club at Lions-Gate in Overland Park.

Garnett helped Gallatin High School win three Missouri state team championships during his career, and he was a three-time NCAA Division II All-American at Missouri Western in St. Joseph.

Garnett has won a couple of events on lower tours since his college days, but one of his biggest achievements was qualifying for last year’s U.S. Open at Olympic in San Francisco. Garnett missed the cut, but he gained valuable experience.

“It’s one of my best experiences, golfwise,” Garnett said. “It was great to tee it up with the best players in the world.

“It gave me confidence and made me hungry to mix it up weekly with the best players in the world.”

Garnett has a chance to qualify for the PGA Tour if he continues to play well this year on the Tour. He ranks 18th in earnings with $127,087, and the top 25 at the end of the regular season get PGA Tour cards for next season.

Garnett gained most of his earnings with three top-10 finishes earlier in the year. He has struggled in recent weeks, but he hopes he has made the adjustments necessary to have a good week.

He will be motivated by getting to play in front of quite a few family members and friends.

“This is the closest by far I will get to playing at home,” Garnett said. “It’s exciting for me.”

Former Tiger gets exemption

Two other former college players received unrestricted exemptions to play in the tournament.

They are Jason Schultz, a 1996 graduate of Missouri who tied for ninth last year, and James Sacheck, who played in college at Texas Christian and turned pro in 2009.

Ex-UMKC player turns professional

Korbin Kuehn, who played in college at UMKC, announced that he is turning professional.

Kuehn is in the field on a sponsor’s exemption.

The other sponsor exemption went to former University of Kansas player Tyler Docking.

Club pros in field

Three area club pros made the 156-player field through the Midwest Section PGA. They are Rob Wilkin of Heritage Park; Chris Happ, an assistant at Mission Hills; and Zac Gavlak of Falcon Ridge.

Following up on 59

Will Wilcox is in the field after becoming the fourth player in Tour history to shoot 59 when he did it in the final round of last week’s Utah Championship in Sandy, Utah.

He finished at 21-under 263, 1 shot out of a playoff won by Steven Alker of New Zealand.

“With the conditions and the left pins, I was able to make some putts,” Wilcox said. “It’s huge, obviously. It’s something every golfer dreams of, and on a par 71, it seems a little more attainable.”

The other 59s in Tour history belong to Notah Begay III, Doug Dunakey and Jason Gore.

Alker and Gore are playing this week as well.

Trying again

Matt Weibring is back in the Midwest Classic after failing to hold a 4-shot lead in the final round last year. Shawn Stefani, who is now on the PGA Tour, closed with a 64 and had a total of 17-under 267.

James Nitties, who won the 2011 title at 26-under, also is in the field. He tied for 11th last year, and he has six rounds of 66 or better in his eight tournament rounds at LionsGate.

He’s on a roll

After a slow start, Ben Martin is one of the hottest players on the Tour.

He won last month’s United Leasing Championship, helping him earn the tour’s player of the month honor in June.

After finishing in the top-10 in just one of his first 11 starts, he has done it in three straight tournaments. Ten of his past 11 rounds have been in the 60s.